Issue of October 19, 2014
     
NEWS
Abra
Benguet
Ifugao
Kalinga
Mt. Province
 
OPINION
 

105th
Baguio Day Anniversary Issue
 
Other Links:
EDITORIAL

The AFTA


The impending construction of a P128 million worth infrastructure project leading to one of the food baskets in the northern part of Benguet, touted as one of the means to prepare farmers for the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement next year leaves us asking: How ready are we indeed?

Most will respond in the negative. Farmers, for instance, will say their source of livelihood is doomed.

We understand the pessimism. We sympathize with the farmers who will have to continue tilling their lands nonetheless to provide for their families. We might have yet to see the opportunities AFTA will bring to the vegetable industry, but clinging to pessimism will get us nowhere.

Much as the government is initiating measures for the agriculture sector to compete in the ASEAN market, farmers’ mindset must also change.

We cannot afford to be waiting for government to bail us out if we are to overcome the challenge.

The government has been doing its best to lay out the infrastructure, among the other things the agriculture industry needs in confronting the AFTA.

For instance, in Benguet, it has funded the agri-trade center in the capital town of La Trinidad, a facility that promises to provide a spacious trading post, several warehouses, cold storage, commercial areas, processing center, and post-harvest facilities. Not bad. We are hoping its completion will be fast tracked and its management, sound.

Another recent intervention is the P128M worth road project seen to improve vegetable production in Barangay Balili, Mankayan, one of the primary food baskets in the province. Aside from cutting travel time from the farms to the market, the infrastructure also promises tourist arrivals, especially since the vegetable-growing area promises a sight comparable to farms in other countries.

These government initiatives might be considered by some as too little, too late considering the AFTA 2015, but these must be maximized.

We need our farmers to also change their mindset. By now, they should have prepared themselves for the challenges brought about by the inevitable – trade liberalization. By now, they should have appreciated the value of crop rotation or the value of adhering to crop programming, a device introduced to them years back in the bid to stabilize price and supply of vegetables in the market.

By now, farmers should have realized that the quality of their produce, coupled with good agricultural practices will remain the come on for buyers.

We are confident the farmers’ resilience and ingenuity will surmount the AFTA and its challenges.
 



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